Facebook seems to be in trouble in Europe. According to IT World, a German privacy regulator has ordered the social networking giant to stop forcing its policy of having real names on the website. This is attributed to the fact that the policy goes against a German law that gives users the rights to use aliases online.
Facebook has refused to allow the use of aliases on its services, as is typically required by the German Telemedia Act, according to Thilo Weichert, Privacy Commissioner and head of the Data Protection Commisioner office (ULD). “This decree is binding,” said Weichert. He went on to say that it is unacceptable that a US-based portal like Facebook is violating German data protection law. Weichert said that the social networking giant must comply with the data protection law to protect user privacy.
May have to ditch its real name policy
This could have far reaching effects for Facebook. This would set a precedent that would allow other countries or even users to speak out against the social network's real name policy, and could eventually result in the company discarding its real name policy.
In response, a Facebook spokesperson said, “We believe the orders are without merit, a waste of German taxpayers' money and we will fight it vigorously.” Facebook has stated that its real name policy complies with European data protection principles and Irish law.
On the other hand, Facebook is also taking a look at new privacy options. It was earlier revealed that the social network will be launching its own 'self destructing' messaging app, in the vein of Snapchat.
Snapchat became a much used app and became prominent because of its ability to destroy messages within 10 seconds of being sent. A user can send messages that destroy themselves from not only their phones, but the receiver’s phone as well. Snapchat even destroys matter from its own servers. The company even added video capabilities to the app. Clearly, this app became very popular with the youth who used it to exchange messages and photographs.
Facebook too will be looking at implementing similar functions in its chat app, including the capability of deciding the amount of time the message or image remains visible. This move is a part of Facebook’s blitzkrieg addition of features to its apps including standalone ones like Messenger and Camera.
There were rumours raging that Facebook was planning to acquire messaging service WhatsApp. However, it appears that the reports were merely speculative and multiple sources confirmed that they were unfounded. It was revealed that Facebook was actually implementing changes to its Android app instead.
Facebook has opened up its messenger service to people who aren't registered with the social network, and users can now use Facebook Messenger to chat using only their name and mobile number. Facebook updated its Android app earlier in December to embrace a wider audience base by removing the necessity of being a Facebook member to use the messenger service. It is supposed to help in enticing more non-members to use Facebook services while giving existing users a bonus by letting them chat with friends who are not on the social networking website.